Targeted sanctions in response to Alexei Navalny’s mistreatment in prison

The Australian Government has imposed Magnitsky-style targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on seven prison officials involved in the mistreatment of Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny was detained at the IK-6 penal colony, a maximum-security jail known for its systematic abuse of prisoners. He was regularly mistreated, denied healthcare and placed in prolonged periods of solitary confinement. He died in custody on 16 February 2024.

The Australian Government is deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Mr Navalny. These sanctions are the next step in Australia’s efforts to hold to account those responsible for grave breaches of Mr Navalny’s human rights. We will continue to work closely with our partners to hold the Russian Government and all involved in Mr Navalny’s death accountable.

The Government’s first tranche of Magnitsky-style human rights sanctions, announced on 10 December 2022, included individuals involved in the 2020 poisoning of Mr Navalny.

Australia holds President Putin and the Russian Government responsible for Mr Navalny’s treatment and death in custody. As Australia has made clear to Russia, we join calls for an independent and transparent investigation into Mr Navalny’s death.

We acknowledge Mr Navalny’s heroic contribution to promoting democracy in Russia and his tireless opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s regime – work for which he has paid the ultimate price.

This announcement builds on our recent actions in response to human rights abuses in Russia. This includes sanctions in response to the poisoning, arrest, trial and sentencing of Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Australia’s statements in key multilateral forums.


The move towards a credible and secure Digital ID has large potential privacy benefits if done well and clear risks if it is rushed or mishandled. 

Today the Parliamentary inquiry into the Digital ID scheme provided its report on the Bill. The Committee received hundreds of concerned submissions from members of the public and organisations with concerns about privacy, ensuring protections for those who won’t or can’t access digital ID and bias in technology including facial recognition. 

The dissenting report from Greens Senator David Shoebridge describes these concerns in greater detail and is available here in the report. 

Greens Senator and Digital Rights Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: 

“This Bill represents a unique opportunity to rebuild trust in the Government’s digital capability. 

“It is clear from the many hundreds of individual submissions that have expressed serious concerns about the privacy implications of a Digital ID, that the Government has not yet earned this trust. 

“The bill does not create a ‘honeypot’ of new data so it’s unfortunate that the Government is insisting on granting law enforcement bodies access to the scheme.

“Insisting on law enforcement having access to the scheme gives the impression that there is a large and useful data set that police and security agencies will want to access. This is not true, the Bill only allows for the interrogation of existing secure databases that already exist at a state and federal level.  

“Insisting on law enforcement access to the Digital ID scheme creates the false impression that it creates a new honeypot of data and that inevitably undermines public confidence in the reform.

“The Greens want to ensure that a new digital ID does not further the existing digital divide in the community.

“If people can’t access a digital ID, or choose not to have one, then then they must still have reasonable access to critical services and not be excluded from participating in social or economic activities. 

“An inclusive digital ID system must be designed as inclusive from the ground up with particular attention to disability inclusion. A simple step here is including proof of age cards as recommended by Blind Citizens Australia.

“We also share the concerns of many groups that uncritical use of biometric and facial matching data could perpetuate existing biases. There needs to be a solid plan to ensure this isn’t baked into the scheme from the beginning. 

“Every one of these concerns can be addressed by well directed amendments in the Senate and the Greens will be working with the government and other parties to achieve this,” Senator Shoebridge said. 


The pressure that the NSW Police, conservative media and state government have placed on Mardi Gras to change their decision to uninvite the NSW Police to the Sydney Mardi Gras parade is an insult to the pain and hurt Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ community is feeling.

This isn’t just about the tragedy last week. 

Just three months ago, the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes reported back finding that the NSW Police still treated scrutiny of their actions with contempt. 

The Police cannot treat the LGBTIQA+ community like a marketing opportunity to pinkwash their brand while treating attempts to interrogate their actions with contempt. No institution is entitled to queer spaces and queer support while refusing to take the required steps to right historical and present wrongs.

In the same week Commissioner Karen Webb gave her apology to the families of gay hate crime victims, Webb accused friends and families grieving the loss of two beloved LGBTIQA+ community members of being “haters.”

The NSW Police should take a step back this year and actually address the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry.

Stephen Bates MP, Australian Greens LGBTIQA+ Spokesperson said:

This is not just about the tragedy of last week. This is about holding the NSW Police accountable for their inaction in response to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ Hate Crimes as part of the historical injustices that have been perpetrated by the Police against the LGBTIQA+ community.

Just days after making her apology in response to the Special Commission report, the Police Commissioner dismissed the hurt and grieving of many in the LGBTIQA+ community and lashed out against Mardi Gras’ simple request that the Police respect our pain this year. 

The Australian Federal Police listened to our community and took a step back this year. The NSW Police should too.

Dr Amanda Cohn MLC, NSW Greens LGBTIQA+ Spokesperson said:

LGBTIQ hate crimes are not just historical. The pain and grief of queer communities in NSW is tangible right now, and parts of the community don’t feel safe reporting threats or violence to police.

The NSW Police marching at Mardi Gras won’t erase decades of systemic violence or patch the wounds still open today. We want to see the NSW Police Force use this year to commit to the transformative change that LGBTQIA+ communities need, including by implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry.

Last  weekend, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb apologised to the families of gay hate crime victims who were denied justice as a result of systemic failures within the NSW Police Force, but provided no commitment to reform.

City of Newcastle and University expand region’s art and culture commitment

City of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle have today announced a new cultural partnership that will see the two organisations working together to expand the region’s art capabilities. 

The four-year partnership marks a significant milestone for both institutions, expanding the two organisations’ commitment to supporting arts and culture in the region, while providing students with valuable educational experience. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky celebrate the new partnershipLord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky celebrate the partnership.   

As work on the expansion of the Newcastle Art Gallery continues, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was the perfect time to formalise the relationship between the institutions for the benefit of the region’s communities, its visitors and a new generation of students.

“As part of the partnership, the community will benefit from shared spaces, while students across various disciplines including architecture, visual communication, business, and tourism courses will have the opportunity to undertake Career-Ready Placements,” Cr Nelmes said. 

“The students will have the opportunity to learn while shadowing staff through all aspects of gallery operations. Students can learn about exhibitions, while business students will understand more about retail and commercial activities.  

“The gallery will benefit from the University’s academic expertise and resources, while building relationships with students who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to foster growth with new audiences. 

“It is a partnership that will ultimately enrich our city’s future cultural and academic landscape.”

A First Nations cadetship has also been established to provide career ready opportunities in Cultural stewardship in the arts.

University of Newcastle’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, welcomed the four-year agreement with Newcastle Art Gallery, acknowledging the shared interests and goals of both institutions.

“Newcastle Art Gallery and the University of Newcastle share a common commitment to cultivating creativity and innovation in the region,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“This special, collaborative partnership will help us to deliver real-world, professional experience to equip our students with career-ready skills, which we believe is key to their future success.

“The students will not only graduate with a degree but will take away real-life experience from working with the gallery. They will have the opportunity to build connections with the knowledgeable team which will help them find a career they love in the future.

“We are proud to be one of the first institutions in Australia to embed this type of Career-Ready Placements within all undergraduate degree programs and are fortunate to have a network of supportive organisations and businesses like Newcastle Art Gallery that are equally passionate about providing our students with real-world experience.” 

In addition to the students’ professional placements, Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton, OAM, said both institutions would enjoy many shared benefits.

“We look forward to the educational and creative opportunities that this partnership will bring,” Ms Morton said.

“We envision future collaborations across complementary exhibits, research and parallel programming, as well as the opportunity to learn from each other.”

Newcastle Art Gallery was Australia’s first purpose-built regional gallery. It has been at the heart of the city’s rich cultural heritage for over 40 years and is home to one of the most significant art collection in regional Australia.

University of Newcastle’s University Galleries Art Curator, Gillean Shaw echoed Lauretta’s sentiment.

“Our art galleries are renowned for contemporary exhibitions and our Watt Space city gallery is the longest-running student gallery in Australia. This partnership will allow us to work together to create more opportunities for our students and our shared communities to experience artistic diversity and extraordinary creativity.” 

Multimillion-dollar community facility coming soon to Blackbutt Reserve

Food for the body and the mind will be on the menu at Blackbutt Reserve as part of a $3 million community-focused project set to get underway next month.

Featuring a new cafe and environmental education space, the multipurpose community facility will provide an enhanced experience for the more than 150,000 people who visit City of Newcastle’s (CN) 182-hectare nature reserve each year.

Kingston Building director Matt Howard, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, CN Assistant Project Manager Rachael Evans, Councillor Margaret Wood, Blackbutt and Natural Areas Manager Andrew Staniland at Blackbutt ReserveKingston Building director Matt Howard, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, CN Assistant Project Manager Rachael Evans, Councillor Margaret Wood, Blackbutt and Natural Areas Manager Andrew Staniland at Blackbutt ReserveConstruction will begin in March and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, after Councillors voted last night to accept a tender for the project.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the project will complement Blackbutt Reserve’s existing attractions, offering a new space to gather and dine whilst taking in the tranquil natural surroundings and animal experiences.

“As the green heart of our city, Blackbutt Reserve welcomes countless locals and visitors each year who take advantage of the picturesque walking trails, unique native wildlife exhibits and family-friendly playgrounds,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The construction of this multipurpose community facility and cafe will improve an already popular attraction and offer a space for all members of our community to relax and enjoy the surroundings, with an accessible design catering for people with diverse mobility and other sensory needs.

“This project will deliver one of the final stages of our $10 million investment to deliver the Carnley Avenue Recreation Area Masterplan from the Blackbutt Plan of Management, that I developed more than a decade ago with the community after fighting to save this wonderful community asset.”

An artist's impression of the new Blackbutt Reserve cafe and community facilityAn artist’s impression of the new Blackbutt Reserve cafe and community facilityThe facility will replace the existing temporary kiosk and will include a cafe with an undercover dining and seating area, as well as a multipurpose space where community and school groups can gather, hold events or learn about the environment.

Cr Nelmes said Council is continuing to deliver quality facilities, with new and redeveloped dining destinations currently in the pipeline as part of the expanded Newcastle Art Gallery, the Bathers Way project at South Newcastle Beach and the Harbour Foreshore Masterplan.

A new operator is also being sought for the café at Lambton Park, which will undergo a major renovation, while the refurbished kiosk at Dixon Park Beach has been incredibly popular since it reopened in 2022.

“By investing in these projects, we will continue to make our recreational and cultural facilities welcoming places for both locals and visitors, while also helping to support new jobs and opportunities for hospitality operators in our community,” Cr Nelmes said.

The cafe and multipurpose community facility have been partially funded by the NSW Government’s Resources for Regions grant program.

Cliff works underway at South Newcastle Beach to enhance public safety

With work on the lower promenade at South Newcastle Beach now complete, specialist contractors have today begun final work to stabilise a section of the cliff face located to the south of the Bathers Way upgrade.

The area is known by the Awabakal name Yirannali, which means “a place of falling rocks”, and is a key point of interest on the Newcastle Coastal Geotrail given the fracturing of layers of coal and sandstone unique to this location.

City of Newcastle Acting Executive Director City Infrastructure Robert Dudgeon said this work is an important step before re-opening the nearby pathway to the community.

“We anticipate that we will see a significant increase in foot traffic compared to historic levels when we open the lower promenade and re-establish the connection from Newcastle Beach up to King Edward Park,” Mr Dudgeon said.

“While the work on the lower promenade is now complete, the contractor working on the cliff face has requested it remain closed to pedestrians while they complete the cliff stabilisation work.

“The area has a history of rockfall, I’m sure many people remember the large rock that fell in 2002.

“Public safety is our highest priority so it’s important that we reduce any risk to the community.”

The work involves installation of a series of rock bolts, while specialised machinery will be used to seal areas of soft rock to reinforce the cliff face.

“We anticipate some short periods of disruption to the flow of traffic and pedestrians along Watt Street in March due to crane movements when the sealing works take place, but much of the work is undertaken using hand tools with workers abseiling from the top of the cliff line,” Mr Dudgeon said.

The specialist contractor will work in close collaboration with Daracon who are working to complete the construction of the Bathers Way upgrade after the original contractor Lloyd Group entered voluntary administration in March last year.

The Bathers Way, South Newcastle Beach upgrade features a shared path from Shortland Esplanade to King Edward Park, improvements to parking, landscaping, lighting and accessibility, the installation of fitness equipment, shade, seating and viewing areas, as well as a new café/kiosk and accessible amenities.

The project also includes a $1.6 million upgrade to the skate park with wheelchair-accessible skate bowl and terrain park, which will complement the advanced-level facilities at Empire Park and provide a unique drawcard to promote ongoing visitation and activation of this area.

The upgrade remains on track for completion in mid-2024.

$20 million funding injection for regional horse racing

The NSW Labor Government has welcomed Racing NSW’s investment of almost $20 million in country and provincial racetracks.

The Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris, has made supporting regional racing a focus since taking on the role. 

The Racing NSW Board has committed to this significant capital works program, prioritising shovel ready projects, including new stabling, track upgrades and other infrastructure improvements. 

Goulburn racecourse will receive the most significant funding, $9.5 million, to construct 80 new stables and supporting infrastructure, with these works already having the necessary development approvals. 

Wyong racecourse has secured more than $1.5 million for irrigation and drainage upgrades, as well as a new machinery shed. 

Gosford racecourse will have a new home turncamber constructed on the course proper at a cost of $2.0 million. 

This project will greatly improve the competitiveness of racing at Gosford, with works to commence immediately following The Coast race meeting in May 2024. 

Dubbo, Albury, Wagga and Grafton have received funding for new or improved training tracks, with these works ready for immediate commencement. 

Ballina will receive funding for a complete irrigation system upgrade to ensure the club is able to efficiently and reliably manage their training and racing surfaces. 

Racing Orange will receive funding for refurbishment of existing oncourse stabling that is currently vacant, adding to the volume of horses in training at the venue. 

Racing is a $3.3 billion industry in the state, with more than 90,000 people involved as employees, participants or volunteers and the flow on effects sustain more than 50,000 local jobs, either directly or indirectly. 

Critically, more than half the racing industry’s economic impact is in rural and regional NSW. 

Racing NSW has spent over $125 million in the past 10 years improving the safety and reliability of racing and training facilities in NSW. 

Quotes attributable to Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris: 

“This funding injection is welcome. It’s about creating local jobs in our rural and regional areas which are more critical than ever before. 

“Thoroughbred racing is an economic powerhouse in regional NSW, providing around 17,700 direct jobs and contributing almost $2 billion to the state’s economy.

“Regional racecourses and clubs play a crucial role in developing our state’s world-class thoroughbreds and creating the champion racehorses of the future. 

“This funding injection is also about futureproofing the industry. 

“This significant investment in infrastructure, as well as a pipeline of trained workers from the Team Thoroughbred NSW Training Academy established by Racing NSW at Scone, creates a safe and sustainable future for the industry. 

“Local jobs in rural and regional areas have flow-on effects across the whole economy and for our communities. 

“The NSW Government understands the value that racing brings to NSW and will continue to support it being the number one state for thoroughbred racing in the country.”

New manufacturing program to change the game for building NSW public schools

Dozens of new and upgraded public school and preschool facilities will be built under an innovative new program that employs modern methods of construction to deliver high quality, sustainable schools in a shorter timeframe while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Manufacturing for Schools program incorporates a range of cutting-edge construction techniques including digital technologies, off-site manufacturing and on-site assembly of prefabricated elements to deliver high quality school buildings faster and at a lower cost than with traditional construction methods.

The program brings together industry professionals via a Manufacturing Partner responsible for connecting the supply chain to deliver the ‘kit of parts’ for new and upgraded schools across the state’s growth areas. A contract has been awarded to The APP Group for the manufacturing partnership.

The Manufacturing for Schools program is expected to deliver cost savings of up to 20 per cent and slash construction time by up to 30 per cent.

At Oran Park Public School, a Stage 2 upgrade that opened for students to use on Day 1, Term 1, 2024, was installed on site in eight weeks. From design to completion, the project took a total of 13 months.

The construction approach prioritises students and growing school communities, especially in high growth areas such as North-Western and South-Western Sydney.

There are plans currently under way to deliver more than 30 new and upgraded schools under the Manufacturing for Schools program, including new primary schools at Sydney Olympic Park and Box Hill/The Gables, and high schools at Jordan Springs, Gregory Hills/Gledswood Hills, Schofields/Tallawong, Leppington and Medowie.

The program is also being deployed to rebuild schools on the North Coast that were devastated by floods, and deliver the majority of 100 public preschools across NSW at locations recently announced.

In addition to faster build times and reduced costs, the new program will reduce carbon emissions, material waste and water waste on sites in comparison with traditional construction methods.

Manufacturing in a controlled factory environment, combined with the shorter build times, also ensures less noise and overall disruption to student learning for projects on existing school sites.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“The Manufacturing for Schools program represents the future – a major shift in our approach to designing, building, and delivering new schools and facilities for students and families in NSW.

“This is an economical, sustainable, and speedy solution that will deliver school facilities meeting the needs of our growing population, while getting better bang for taxpayers’ buck.

“In challenging times like natural disasters, the program’s speed and efficiency will ensure a swift rebuilding process, allowing us to reinstate the schooling routine for affected students and families promptly.

“I am proud we are leading the way with industry partners to deliver a new era of school building through this innovative program.

“This future-focused strategy for sustainable and modern school building will ensure we can support teachers and students to achieve outstanding learning outcomes.”

Ministerial media release27 February 2024

Wellbeing nurses to support more NSW school children

More NSW children will have access to important wellbeing support at school as a result of the NSW Government committing $60 million over 4 years to continue the successful Wellbeing and Health In-reach Nurse (WHIN) Coordinator program.Ministerial media release19 February 2024

Thousands of families to benefit as locations of 100 new public preschools revealed

Thousands of families across NSW will benefit from expanded access to early childhood education as the NSW Government unveils the locations for 100 new public preschools.Ministerial media release8 February 2024

All Sydney families to have access to co-ed public high schools from 2025

The NSW Government is continuing to deliver on its election commitment to ensure every family in NSW has the option of choosing a co-ed public high school, with thousands of families across Sydney set to benefit from next year. downloadDownload as PDFprintPrint this page

Couples leap for love on once-in-four-year opportunity

Fourteen couples will tie the knot today on a date that comes around just once every 4 years, in special Leap Year ceremonies offered by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Another couple will also take the opportunity to renew their vows on their ‘first’ wedding anniversary, after tying the knot with the Registry exactly 4 years ago.

Since 2004, more than 900 couples have chosen to get married in NSW on a leap day, with more than 450 couples celebrating their ‘first’ anniversary this year despite being married for 4 years.

To make the occasion even more memorable, the couples will be among the first to enjoy the Registry’s new Pyrmont venue, which offers water views and a convenient location close to Sydney’s CBD for those celebrating a wedding.

The new venue is bigger and more accessible than its predecessor in Chippendale, with 2 wedding rooms couples can choose from – or merge to accommodate up to 70 guests.  

Ceremonies at the Pyrmont Registry start from $477 and include a celebrant, marriage certificate and private room with up to 30 guests. 

For those who prefer simplicity, Legal-Only ceremonies are available with just 2 witnesses and a celebrant in a small room.

Get more information on getting married at the new Pyrmont Registry.

Bookings must be made at least 1 month prior to the wedding date.

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Jihad Dib said:

“What is more memorable than getting married on February 29, the rarest date on the calendar?”

“Couples not only get to enjoy their special day with 30 of their nearest and dearest, but also the novelty of a leap year wedding – with only one anniversary every 4 years to remember and exchange gifts for!”

“A Registry wedding is also incredibly affordable, starting at just $477, making it a great option at the moment when cost of living pressures are impacting people across NSW.”

NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registrar Theresa Fairman said:

“The new Pyrmont Registry is where affordability meets elegance, offering couples the opportunity to celebrate their love without compromising on quality.”

“We extend our warmest congratulations to all the couples who chose to marry on this special leap year day and hope your union is filled with joy, laughter, and countless memories as you journey through life together.”

A Sound future for music in NSW

The ten-year plan to rebuild the music sector in NSW takes another important step forward as Sound NSW holds its first advisory board meeting of representatives from a cross-section of the industry.

Sound NSW is delivering a ten-year Contemporary Music Strategy, as well as policies and funding programs, including soundproofing of live music venues to counter some of the noise complaint issues that have dogged the sector in recent years.

To inform the strategy, Sound NSW is conducting research into NSW’s live music ecosystem with insights due by the middle of the year.

Emily Collins has been appointed as Head of Sound NSW following a competitive recruitment process by the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade to drive and deliver this music agenda. Collins and her team will be supported by an artist and industry Advisory Board.

The 12-strong Advisory Board is now complete following the final appointments of three new members – Jane Slingo, Kristy Peters (KLP), and Tanya Ali.

The board will consider initiatives to support the contemporary music sector and encourage collaboration and innovation, and identify investment opportunities.

The full Sound NSW Advisory Board is:

  • Vyvienne Abla, Director, 4E Hip Hop Festival
  • Tanya Ali, Managing Director, FBi Radio
  • Tyla Dombroski, Director, Crowbar Sydney 
  • Jessica Ducrou (Chair), co-CEO, Secret Sounds
  • Annabelle Herd, CEO ARIA and PPCA 
  • Matthew Jeffrey, Delegate, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
  • Lucy Joseph, Live and Local Program Manager, Live Music Office 
  • Tim Leha, Independent Indigenous media specialist
  • Dean Ormston, CEO, APRA AMCOS
  • Kristy Lee Peters, Musician/DJ, KLP
  • Jane Slingo, Executive Producer, Electronic Music Conference
  • John Watson (Deputy Chair), founder and president of John Watson Management and Eleven: A Music Company

See the full list of members and biographies

Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, John Graham said: 

“Through Sound NSW, the music industry has a dedicated Government office committed to the development and promotion of contemporary music in NSW.

“Working together with industry, Sound NSW will help the government to move the dial on our commitment to support the venues that sustain and grow our music industry.

“With a board full of nationally significant leaders from across the music industry and Emily Collins heading up the team at Sound NSW, work is underway to deliver on our election commitment to double live music venues and support contemporary music in NSW.

“Sound NSW has been given the direction to champion and invest in the contemporary music sector to deliver positive outcomes for artists and audiences alike through targeted programs and advocacy.”

Head of Sound NSW, Emily Collins, said: 

“It is an exciting time for Sound NSW as we really start to break our stride and deliver on our 
priorities to nurture creative careers, encourage innovation, enhance export opportunities, and 
create positive outcomes for artists, industry professionals, music businesses, and audiences.

“With a new Sound NSW team in place, an Advisory Board of music experts and the support of 
Government, NSW is on track to become a global music powerhouse and a thriving heartland for our national industry.”